Orange Line (MBTA)

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ORANGE LINE
Roxbury Crossing platform.jpg
Inbound train at Roxbury Crossing
Overview
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Locale Boston, Massachusetts
Termini Oak Grove
Forest Hills
Stations 19 (1 planned)
Daily ridership 184,961 (FY2010)[1]
Operation
Opening 1901
Owner MBTA
Operator(s) MBTA
Rolling stock 01200 series
Technical
Line length 11 miles (18 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification Third Rail
Route map
Haymarket North Extension
Oak Grove
Malden Center MBTA.svg
Wellington
Mystic River
Assembly Square
planned to
open in 2014
Sullivan Square
Community College
Charles River
North Station Amtrak MBTA.svg  Green Line 
Washington Street Subway
Haymarket  Green Line 
State  Blue Line 
Downtown Crossing
 Red Line  &
 Silver Line 
Chinatown  Silver Line 
Southwest Corridor
Tufts Medical Center  Silver Line 
Back Bay Amtrak MBTA.svg
Mass Ave
Ruggles MBTA.svg
Roxbury Crossing
Jackson Square
Stony Brook
Green Street
Forest Hills MBTA.svg

The Orange Line is one of the four subway lines of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It extends from Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, Boston in the south to Oak Grove in Malden, Massachusetts in the north. It meets the Red Line at Downtown Crossing, the Blue Line at State, and the Green Line at Haymarket and North Station. It connects with Amtrak and Commuter Rail service at Back Bay and North Station, and just the commuter rail at Ruggles station in Roxbury and at Forest Hills. From 1901 to 1987 it provided the first elevated rapid transit in Boston; the last elevated section was torn down in 1987 when the southern portion of the line was moved to the Southwest Corridor.

History[edit]

Names[edit]

The current name, assigned in 1965,[2] is derived from Orange Street, an old name for the section of Washington Street immediately south of downtown under which the Washington Street Tunnel, forming the center of the line, still runs.[3][4] The line was previously named the Main Line Elevated by the Boston Elevated Railway, and by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) as the Forest Hills–Everett Elevated.[2]

Several stations were renamed in 1967 and 1987 from the names of the nearest street intersections to those of local landmarks; for example, "Boylston-Essex" eventually was renamed "Chinatown".

Construction[edit]

The Charlestown El running over the old Charlestown Bridge

The Main Line of the electric Boston Elevated Railway opened in segments, starting in 1901. It proceeded from Sullivan Square along the Charlestown Elevated to the Canal Street Incline near North Station. It was carried underground by the Tremont Street Subway (now part of the Green Line), returning above ground at the Pleasant Street Incline (now closed, located just south of Boylston station). A temporary link connected from there to the Washington Street Elevated, which in 1901 ran from this point via Washington Street to Dudley Square (which is most of what is now Phase 1 of the Silver Line).

Also in 1901, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated opened, branching at Causeway Street to provide an alternate route through downtown Boston (along the shoreline, where today there is no rail transit) to the Washington Street Elevated.

In 1908, a new Washington Street Tunnel opened, allowing Main Line service to travel from the Charlestown Elevated, underground via an additional new portal at the Canal Street Incline, under downtown Boston, and back up again to meet the Washington Street Elevated and Atlantic Avenue Elevated near Chinatown. Use of the parallel Tremont Street Subway was returned exclusively to streetcars.

By 1909, the Washington Street Elevated had been extended south to Forest Hills. Trains from Washington Street were routed through the new subway, either all the way to Sullivan Square, or back around in a loop via the subway and then the Atlantic Avenue Elevated.

In 1919, the Charlestown Elevated was extended north from Sullivan Square to Everett, over surface right-of-way parallel to Alford Street/Broadway, with a drawbridge over the Mystic River. The Boston Elevated had long-term plans to continue this extension further north to Malden, a goal which would only be achieved decades later, under public ownership and not via the Everett route.[2]

Closure of Atlantic Elevated and ownership changes[edit]

Atlantic Avenue Elevated station (1915)

Following a 1928 accident at a tight curve on Beach Street, the southern connection between South Station and Washington Street was closed, breaking the loop. By 1938, the entire Atlantic Avenue Elevated had been closed, leaving the subway as the only route through downtown - what is now the Orange Line between Haymarket and Chinatown stations.

Ownership of the railway was transferred from the private Boston Elevated Railway to the public Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in 1947, reconstituted as the modern Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 1964.

Rerouting of Charlestown and Everett service[edit]

The old Main Line Elevated and related lines

The Boston Transportation Planning Review looked at the line in the 1970s, considering extensions to reach the beltway Route 128, with termini at Reading in the north and Dedham in the south. As a result of this review, the Charlestown Elevated - which served the Charlestown neighborhood north of downtown Boston and the inner suburb Everett - was demolished and replaced in 1975.

The Haymarket North Extension rerouted the Orange Line through an underwater crossing of the Charles River. Service in Charlestown was replaced with service along Boston and Maine tracks routed partially beneath an elevated section of Interstate 93, ultimately to Wellington and then to Oak Grove in Malden, Massachusetts instead of Everett. Rail service to Everett was replaced with buses.

Closure of Washington Street Elevated[edit]

View under Washington Street Elevated, looking south from Bartlett Street (1973)

Construction of Interstate 95 into downtown Boston was cancelled in 1972 after local protest over the necessary demolition. However, land for I-95's Southwest Corridor through Roxbury had already been cleared of buildings; moreover, the state had already committed to using this vacant land for transportation purposes.[5] As a result, instead of an 8-lane Interstate highway with a relocated Orange Line running in its median (in a manner similar to the Chicago Transit Authority's Dan Ryan and Congress and Jefferson Park lines), the space would be occupied by the realigned Orange Line, a reconstructed three-track mainline for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and MBTA commuter rail, and a linear park. After this re-routing was accomplished in 1987, the Washington Street Elevated was torn down, the last major segment of the original elevated line to be demolished.

Modern view from the platform at Chinatown station shows the remains of the Washington Street Tunnel that led to the Elevated, in the background. In the foreground, the tracks curve rightward into the Southwest Corridor.

Between April 30 and May 3, 1987, the Washington Street Elevated south of the Chinatown station was closed to allow the Orange Line to be tied into the new Southwest Corridor. On May 4, 1987, the Orange Line was rerouted from the southern end of the Washington Street Tunnel onto the new Southwest Corridor. Instead of rising up to elevated tracks, it now veered west at the Massachusetts Turnpike and followed the Pike and the old Boston and Albany Railroad right-of-way to the existing MBTA Commuter Rail stop at Back Bay. It then continued along new tracks, partially covered and partially open but depressed, to Forest Hills. This MBTA right-of-way is also shared by Amtrak as part of the national Northeast Corridor intercity passenger rail service.

While ending more or less at the same terminus (Forest Hills), the new routing bypassed significantly to the west of its previous route on Washington Street; local residents were promised replacement service. Originally, plans provided for light rail vehicles street running in mixed traffic, from Washington Street to Dudley Square, then diverting southeastward on Warren Street towards Dorchester. In 2002, Phase 1 of the Silver Line bus rapid transit was added to connect Washington Street to the downtown subways, attempting to address this service need. This replacement service was controversial, as many residents would have preferred the return of rail transportation.[citation needed]

Renovations during the Big Dig[edit]

Haymarket and North Station received major renovations during the Big Dig in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century, as the Causeway Street Elevated portion of the Green Line was buried, its physical connection to the Orange Line was improved to make transfers easier, the Canal Street Incline was finally closed, and the Green Line was re-rerouted through a new portal closer to the river, near the Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

Historical routes[edit]

1901-1908 1908-1938 1938-1975
Charlestown Elevated
Sullivan Square
Thompson Square
City Square
Charles River
Atlantic Avenue Elevated (r)
North Station
Canal Street Incline | Battery Street
Tremont Street Subway (l)
Haymarket
Adams Square
Scollay Square | State Street(East Boston Tunnel)
Rowes Wharf(BRB&L ferry)
Park Street | South Station(Dorcester Tunnel)
Boylston
Pleasant Street Portal | Beach Street
Pleasant Street
Washington Street Elevated
Dover
Northampton
Dudley Square
Charlestown Elevated
Everettopened 1919
Mystic River
Sullivan Square
Thompson Square
City Square
Charles River
Atlantic Avenue Elevated (r)
North Station
Canal Street Incline | Battery Street
Washington Street Subway (l)
Friend-Union
Milk-State | State Street(East Boston Tunnel)
Rowes Wharf(BRB&L ferry)
Summer | South Station(Dorcester Tunnel)
Boylston-Essex
Beach Street
Washington Street Elevated
Dover
Northampton
Dudley Square
Egleston
Green Street(opened 1912)
Forest Hills
Charlestown Elevated
Everett
Mystic River
Sullivan Square
Thompson Square
City Square
Charles River
North Station
Canal Street Incline
Washington Street Subway
Friend-Union
Milk-State(Blue Line)
Winter-Summer(Red Line)
Boylston-Essex
Washington Street Elevated
Dover
Northampton
Dudley Square
Egleston
Green Street
Forest Hills
1975-1987 1987–present Notes
Haymarket North Extension
Oak Grove
Malden Center(Commuter Rail)
Wellington
Mystic River
Sullivan Square
Community College
Charles River
North Station(Green Line, Commuter Rail)
Haymarket(Green Line)
Washington Street Subway
State(Blue Line)
Washington(Red Line)
Essex
Washington Street Elevated
Dover
Northampton
Dudley Square
Egleston
Green Street
Forest Hills
Haymarket North Extension
Oak Grove
Malden Center(Commuter Rail)
Wellington
Mystic River
Assembly Square
planned to
open in 2014
Sullivan Square
Community College
Charles River
North Station(Amtrak, Commuter Rail)
Washington Street Subway
Haymarket
State(Blue Line)
Downtown Crossing(Red Line)
Chinatown
Southwest Corridor
Tufts Medical Center
Back Bay(Amtrak, Commuter Rail)
Mass Ave
Ruggles(Commuter Rail)
Roxbury Crossing
Jackson Square
Stony Brook
Green Street
Forest Hills(Commuter Rail)
  • The Forest Hills extension of the Washington Street Elevated opened in 1909; the infill station at Green Street opened in 1912.
  • The section of the Atlantic Avenue elevated between South Station and the junction near Dover was closed in 1928 after an accident.
  • Haymarket and State got their modern names in 1967. Downtown Crossing and Chinatown also changed names in 1967, but changed again in 1987.
  • Oak Grove opened in 1977, two years after the rest of the Haymarket North Extension.
  • Tufts Medical Center was New England Medical Center until 2010.

Plans[edit]

Assembly Square[edit]

An infill station, Assembly Square, at Assembly Square in Somerville is presently expected to open in 2014. The new station, located on the bank of the Mystic River between Wellington and Sullivan Square stations, will serve a new development at Assembly Square.[6]

Station listing[edit]

Station Time to
Downtown Crossing
(min)[7]
Opened Transfers and notes
Handicapped/disabled access Oak Grove 15 March 20, 1977
Handicapped/disabled access Malden Center 13 December 27, 1975 Commuter Rail: Haverhill/Reading Line
Handicapped/disabled access Wellington 10 September 6, 1975
Handicapped/disabled access Assembly Square 9 2014 (planned) Infill station
Handicapped/disabled access Sullivan Square 7 April 7, 1975 Separate station from one on the Charlestown Elevated closed April 4, 1975
Handicapped/disabled access Community College 5 April 7, 1975 Serves Bunker Hill Community College
Handicapped/disabled access North Station 3 April 7, 1975 Green Line and Commuter Rail north side lines.
Amtrak: Downeaster
Handicapped/disabled access Haymarket 2 November 30, 1908 Green Line
Originally Friend-Union until January 25, 1967
Handicapped/disabled access State 1 November 30, 1908 Blue Line
Originally Milk-State until January 24, 1967
Handicapped/disabled access Downtown Crossing - November 30, 1908 Red Line, Green Line and Silver Line
Originally Winter-Summer until January 22, 1967, then Washington until May 3, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Chinatown 2 November 30, 1908 Silver Line
Originally Boylston-Essex until February 10, 1967, then Essex until May 3, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Tufts Medical Center 3 May 4, 1987 Silver Line
Originally New England Medical Center until April 2010
Handicapped/disabled access Back Bay 6 May 4, 1987 Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Lake Shore Limited
Commuter Rail: Providence/Stoughton Line, Framingham/Worcester Line, Franklin Line and Needham Line
Also called Back Bay/South End
Handicapped/disabled access Massachusetts Avenue 8 May 4, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Ruggles 9 May 4, 1987 Commuter Rail: Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line and Needham Line
Handicapped/disabled access Roxbury Crossing 10 May 4, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Jackson Square 12 May 4, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Stony Brook 14 May 4, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Green Street 16 May 4, 1987 Separate station from one on the former Washington Street Elevated closed April 30, 1987
Handicapped/disabled access Forest Hills 18 May 4, 1987 Commuter Rail: Needham Line
Separate station from one on the former Washington Street Elevated closed April 30, 1987
Former terminus of Green Line E branch

Equipment[edit]

Outbound train at North Station

The Orange Line is standard gauge heavy rail, and uses third rail for power. The current fleet is the 01200 series, built 1980-1981 by Hawker Siddeley Canada Car and Foundry (now Bombardier Transportation) of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. They are 65 feet (20 m) long and 9 ft 3 in (2.8 m) wide, with three pairs of doors on each side. They are based on the PA3 model used by PATH in New Jersey. There are 120 cars, numbered 01200-01319. All in-service Orange Line trains run in six-car configurations.

Year Built Make Model Length ft ( mm) Width in ( mm) Gauge Road Numbers
1980–1981 Hawker Siddeley Canada PA3 65 ft (19,812 mm) 111 in (2,819 mm) 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) 1200–1319

New trains[edit]

It was announced in the Spring of 2009 that the planning process for new Orange and Red Line vehicles had begun. The simultaneous order calls for 146 Orange Line cars (to replace the whole fleet) and 74 Red Line cars (presumably to replace the 1500s and 1600s, of which there were 76, with 72 still in service). This order would be similar to the current Orange Line cars and the old Blue Line cars, ordered at the same time and largely identical except for size. The announcement also suggested that new Green Line cars will be planned as well, although these cars would not be similar to the Orange and Red Line cars due to the differing natures of the lines.[8] In October 2013, MassDOT announced plans for a $1.3 billion subway car order for the Orange and Red Lines, which would provide 152 new cars to replace the current 120-car fleet and add more frequent service.[9]

Facilities[edit]

The Orange Line has two tracks (one in each direction) except for a third track between Wellington and the Charles River portal.[10] This track can be used to bypass construction on the other two, or for testing newly delivered cars for the Orange and Blue lines. The primary maintenance and storage facility is at Wellington Station.[10] Had the Orange Line been extended to Reading, the third track would have become an express track.

Accessibility[edit]

All stations on the Orange Line are handicapped accessible. Work on State to make it fully accessible from the Blue Line was completed in Spring 2011 and officially announced on May 26, 2011.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics, Twelfth Edition". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2009. p. 6. Retrieved December 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Clarke, Bradley H. (1981). The Boston Rapid Transit Album. Cambridge, MA: Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 1–64. 
  3. ^ Orange Street on Map of Boston 1775
  4. ^ Kleespies, Gavin W. and MacDonald, Katie. "Transportation History". Harvard Square Business Association. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Anderson, Steve. "Southwest Expressway (I-95, unbuilt)". bostonroads.com. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  6. ^ http://www.assemblysquare.com/news.html[dead link][dead link]
  7. ^ From Association for Public Transportation, Car-Free in Boston, A Guide for Locals and Visitors, 10th ed. (2003), p.117, and MBTA website, roughly interpolated by distance between stations.
  8. ^ http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Accessibility/Access%20in%20Motion_Spring09%20-%20Word.doc
  9. ^ "Governor Patrick Announces Major Transportation Funding Investments". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "MBTA Orange Line". world.nycsubway.org. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 
  11. ^ "> About the MBTA > News & Events". MBTA. 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2012-06-17. 

External links[edit]